For Banned Books Week, I wrote about the film, Fahrenheit 451:
Truffaut’s film presents literature’s as a cultural keepsake. Simple or complex, realistic or surreal, fact or fiction, words and stories are a record of how the human imagination has arrived at its present form. As Montag says of his nightly reading ritual, “I’ve got to catch up with the remembrance of the past.” Truffaut and Bradbury suggest literature is like the mythical phoenix, which had healing powers and could rise out of its own ashes. Both fragile and resilient, literature seems simple enough to stifle. Ban it, and it disappears. Burn it, as libraries have been in every civilization, and all that remains are ashes. But if a book has been read even once, it survives, even if only as a fragment, in memory. It’s passed on when someone shares that memory, and in this way, literature survives. It transforms, spilling its stories into different art forms, like cinema and painting. As long as there is memory, there is literature.
Click here for the entire piece.
More recently, Woody Allen decided Blue Jasmine wouldn’t release in India because he didn’t want the anti-tobacco messages imprinted upon his film.
Many will cheer for Allen standing up for his work and claiming his right as the director of the film to decide what happens to it, the way David Fincher did when he refused the edits that the Indian censors demanded of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. There are those who will raise the valid question of whether one line of warning against smoking, written in small, semi-transparent type, is actually potent enough to destroy the aesthetics of Allen’s frames in Blue Jasmine. Would that warning popping up now and then really distract us from the story he’s telling? It’s possible that Allen is being a cantankerous old perfectionist who is making a big deal out of a stupid requirement. But it is his film and he is the only one who has the right to decide whether or not it should be ‘customised’ for India.
The real question is, where does that leave the Indian viewer? The answer is, snubbed. You can either limit your film watching to what is available in cinemas or watch a pirated copy of the film.
The whole piece is here.